Join us for a special weekend screening of Mexico City Blues and Hanuman Presents!, two historic poetry readings documented in film by Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz
RSVP to tune in any time Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16 to access the films by vimeo link and password. Films Screening will be available all day Saturday and Sunday.
Mexico City Blues documents a reading that took place at the famed Knitting Factory on Houston Street in New York City on Sunday, December 4, 1988, of Jack Kerouac’s book-length poem “Mexico City Blues,” called by poet Michael McClure, “the great modern religious poem.” Allen Ginsberg often praised this poem, and the poet Vincent Katz, feeling there was something in the poem he was missing, conceived the event at the Knitting Factory as a way of getting into its deep structure: a group of musicians provided an improvised accompaniment for a cast of readers that included, in addition to Ginsberg, Charles Bernstein, Richard Hell, Bob Holman, Gerard Malanga, Judith Malina, Eileen Myles, Jerome Rothenberg, Carl Solomon, Lewis Warsh, Hal Willner, and many more. Filmmakers Bittencourt and Katz traveled to the Bay Area to interview Beat legends Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure about Kerouac’s poem, the former somewhat con, the latter unreservedly pro. The original edit was done by Henry Hills. A new edit, by Oliver Katz, restores some readings and readers left out of the original cut and expands the treatment of the event, which attempted to follow Kerouac’s description of his poem:
I want to be considered a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam session on Sunday. I take 242 choruses; my ideas vary and sometimes roll from chorus to chorus or from halfway through a chorus to halfway into the next.
— Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz
Readers: Barbara Barg, Charles Bernstein, Lee Ann Brown, Maggie Dubris, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hell, Bob Holman, Lita Hornick, Vicki Hudspith, Vincent Katz, Rochelle Kraut, Gerard Malanga, Judith Malina, Eileen Myles, Simon Pettet, Hanon Reznikov, Bob Rosenthal, Jerome Rothenberg, Tom Savage, Elio Schneeman, Michael Scholnick, Carl Solomon, Steven Taylor, David Trinidad, Lewis Warsh, Hal Willner, Nina Zivancevic.
Improvised Musical Accompaniment provided by: Mark Ettinger, Dennis Mitcheltree, Charlie Morrow, Samir Safwat, and others. Interviews with Michael McClure and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Edited by Henry Hills & Oliver Katz. Camera by Vivien Bittencourt. Performance concept by Vincent Katz.
Produced and Directed by Vivien Bittencourt & Vincent Katz, Mexico City Blues was recorded at The Knitting Factory, New York City, December 4, 1988. Runtime: 30 minutes.
Hanuman Presents! documents a historic reading, which took place on May 18, 1989, at St. Mark’s Church in New York. The readers all had books published by Hanuman Books, which were edited by Francesco Clemente and Raymond Foye and printed in Madras, India, in the format of small Indian prayer books with colorful covers and moveable type. Many of the readers are from the Beat era, and an air of studied provocation runs through the reading. Several of the authors have died since the time of the reading, etching its place in history. Beat figures include Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, and John Wieners, all of whose writing has focused on the politics of the individual and the right to freedom of personal expression. New York of the Andy Warhol Factory era is represented by Superstars Taylor Mead and Rene Ricard, both well-known authors as well as sublime elements of the New York nightlife. Ricard was also a poet and critic of the first rank. Following them is Cookie Mueller, a veteran of John Waters’ films, documentor of the ‘80s art boom for the original Details magazine, and co-bon-vivant of Nan Goldin, in whose oeuvre she occupies a central position. A friend of Cookie’s and leading instigator of the punk movement, Richard Hell is nowadays a poet and acclaimed novelist. L.A. post-punk poets Bob Flanagan, Amy Gerstler, and David Trinidad are balanced by the East Coast élan of Elaine Equi, Eileen Myles, and Vincent Katz. The latter two groups are also influenced by the New York School poets – particularly Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler – tempering the Beat aspect by greater emphasis on the individual sonorities of words. Reading filmed by Vivien Bittencourt.
The video is greatly enhanced by the poetic imagery of late underground filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt, who produced over one hundred 16-millimeter films from the 1930s to the 1990s and frequently collaborated with poets, musicians, artists, and dancers including John Ashbery, Aaron Copland, Joseph Cornell, Edwin Denby, Taylor Mead, Larry Rivers, and Paul Taylor.
— Vivien Bittencourt and Vincent Katz
Readers: Gregory Corso, Elaine Equi, Bob Flanagan, Amy Gerstler, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Hell, Herbert Huncke, Vincent Katz, Taylor Mead, Cookie Mueller, Eileen Myles, Rene Ricard, David Trinidad, John Wieners.
With excerpts from films by Rudy Burckhardt. Introduced by Raymond Foye. Edited by David Dawkins and Henry Hills. Titles by Tabboo!
Produced and Directed by Vivien Bittencourt & Vincent Katz, Hanuman Presents! was recorded at the Poetry Project, St. Mark’s Church, New York City, May 18, 1989. Runtime: 42 minutes, 47 seconds.